A Challenger Approaches: Episode 3

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On the last episode of “A Challenger Approaches,” I traveled to Austin, Texas in search of my next opponent. In Austin, I stayed at the Drifter Jack Hostel and met Ed, from Melbourne, Australia. Ed told me about his current life in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he teaches English to school children. He mains Donkey Kong purely for the love of the character. As Captain Falcon, I defeated Ed’s Donkey Kong and continued on my way.

After leaving Austin, I drove west. I was in high spirits after winning my match-up against Ed, and I was confident that I’d find my next opponent in New Mexico. My first stop was The City of Rocks State Park, which, as you could expect, was filled with more rocks than people.

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The City of Rocks State Park looks like a martian landscape, devoid of human life.

Further north, I stayed in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. I figured I might find my next opponent in one of these cities, but I didn't. I played Ultimate friendlies with a traveling salesman, a comedian and a student on a road trip, but they weren't confident enough for a formal challenge and interview, so the search continued.

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Colorful sedimentary rock layers near Abiquiu, New Mexico.

I left New Mexico, unsure when I’d find the next challenge. For two weeks, I hiked all over Colorado, beginning in the San Juan National Forest, where I found a beautiful campsite among the mountains.

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San Juan National Forest, Colorado.

Then I went to the incredibly steep Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The light-colored “Pegmatite *****” shown in the rock walls were created by vents of magma about 1.7 billion years ago. Over time, the Gunnison River cut through the hard rock, forming the steep canyon seen today.

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado.

After the Black Canyon, I went to the Uncompahgre National Forest, still in search of my next opponent. Here, I camped at the highest elevation “campground” I’ve ever stayed at. At an elevation just above 11,000 ft, Alta Lakes sat peacefully under Palmyra Peak.

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Sunset on the mountains overlooking Alta Lakes, Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado.

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View of Alta Lakes from about 12,000 ft. Uncompahgre National Forest, Colorado.

As I made my way north, I stopped in Boulder, Colorado. At this point, I really should have just reached out to find a local tournament somewhere, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. Instead, I hiked Sanitas Mountain, in Boulder.

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City of Boulder as viewed from Sanitas Mountain, just north of Boulder, Colorado.

After leaving Boulder, I spent quite some time backpacking in Wyoming. For another two weeks, I became lost in the salubrious solitude of America’s backcountry. Have you ever heard of the Wind River Mountains? They’re unbelievably beautiful and expectedly remote. I wondered if I’d see another soul out there.

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Lonesome Lake sits below the Cirque of the Towers in the Bridger Wilderness, Wyoming.

Surprisingly, I did encounter a few other hikers, but I didn’t bring the Switch with me. I had about 25 - 30 lbs on my back, and it was difficult to find extra space in my backpack.

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Big Sandy Lake in Wind River Mountains, Bridger - Teton National Forest.

From there, I trekked on through the Grand Tetons National Park, still without a match.

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Backpacked my Switch 8 miles into Solitude Lake. Solitudinous.

Once I reached Glacier National Park in Montana, I made it my goal to challenge a park ranger. On the first day, I couldn’t find a ranger who was interested in playing, understandably. Imagine me approaching someone who could be your aunt or uncle working for the national park and asking them if they want to play a video game. These are naturey people, who usually don’t have any interest in video games. It was a tough sell.

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Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Glacier National Park was incredibly beautiful though. Over five days, I hiked and backpacked about 40 miles through the glacially-cut mountains.

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Extreme wildflowers blooming at an altitude of about 11,000 ft. Glacier National Park, Montana.

I ended up in the Two Medicine area where I met some younger park rangers. They suggested I talk to another ranger, who was apparently pretty good at Super Smash Bros. I searched high and low, but never found this ranger. Sadly, I failed my mission.

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A moose near the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park, Montana.

It was around this time when I made word of my troubles to the Smashboards editorial team. I told them I was heading towards Washington, and said I would search for my next opponent in Seattle. I didn’t need to search anymore though, because one of Smashboards’ editors lives in the area and was looking to pick a fight! I had finally found my next challenger! Smashboards’ own Lucas Guimaraes a.k.a. “Thirdkoopa”!

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Panorama of the view from the top of Shannon Ridge, next to Mt. Baker, in Washington.

I finally made it to Seattle, and we made a plan for an interview and a battle. It was a great relief to break the drought. I had never imagined a lack of battles, but in hindsight, I should have expected this. People go out into nature to unplug! They dont go out into nature for Super Smash Bros.!

Lucas and I met at Vic’s Pizzeria. He proposed that we get the Double Crusted Phat Joe (a Chicago-style pizza filled with pepperoni, sausage, and plenty of mozzarella cheese), and I wholeheartedly agreed.

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Lucas chowing down on a fine looking slice of pizza!

We then set ourselves up with a switch and a TV, and I got down to interviewing Lucas!

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Lucas! It’s so great to finally meet you! How did you come up with your tag? Are you the self-proclaimed “Third koopa” to exist?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Oh gosh! I came up with this username because I was generally trying to do this thing that was popular with username creation. It was 2007, and it came off the heels of Wintern0va, and I was just trying, like, a number mixed with something from Nintendo. It was originally for the oficial N-sider forums. I was originally “TheThirdKoopa.” So I just combined “Third” and “koopa”! Koopa was my favorite Nintendo creature. “Thirdkoopa” and “TK” have just kinda stuck since then!

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: So yes! The self-proclaimed “Third koopa”! So Thirdkoopa, where are you from and where are we now?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: I was actually born in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro! Then we moved to Texas, then to Georgia, and now, Washington!

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Other than writer and editor for Smashboards, what other hobbies do you have?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Too many! I love playing video games in general, which includes Smash and other fighting games. My interests lately have been in the Crash Team Racing remake and Tetris Grandmaster. Beyond that, my hobbies are music, art, programming, and creative writing. I have a general passion for game development, and I love making and playing games with friends!

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Do you do any of that professionally? Or do you have another profession or job?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Currently no, but in the future, I’d love to have my own indie game studio. I’m currently a graduate student at Western Governer’s University! I’m studying to attain my masters in IT management.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Washington is known for its “Evergreen” trees and its mountainous terrain. What’s your favorite wilderness location in Washington and why?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Despite living in Washington, I haven’t done much exploring! My favorite is actually the beach! I love going out in the water and body surfing. In Texas, we used to have a beach nearby, so going to the beach also makes me feel nostalgic.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Let’s talk Smash! What’s your favorite Super Smash Bros. game and why?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Is it cheating to say Rivals of Aether? Real talk though, my favorite for Super Smash Bros. is Ultimate, and Melee is a close second. There’s so much content in Ultimate that it’s the DEFINITIVE Smash for me.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Who is your main in Ultimate and why?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Wolf. I played him in Brawl, and I like his playstyle. At one point, I had a “main crisis” because of his recovery, but I ended up back with him anyway. I also have a history with the character because I really like the Star Fox games like Star Fox 64 and Star Fox: Assault.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: Who is your “soul” Smash character?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: I was going to say Wolf, but he LITERALLY DOES NOT HAVE ONE EYE. Therefore, not wolf. I would probably have to say Greninja, Shulk, and Banjo Kazooie. Greninja—water ninja, what’s not to love?! Shulk can look into the future so that’s neat. Banjo is just a cool guy, so I could see myself as him too. I’m indecisive, whoops.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: What do you think comes next after Ultimate?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Hmm. I think what's going to come next is another “definitive” smash like Ultimate. I don’t think a reboot of another game will happen. Smash is a very character-based game, so I can’t really see a roster dropping from like 80 characters back down to 12. I think we could also see Smash move into other genres, but I doubt that’ll happen though.

Luke "The Challenger" Hayduk: So are you ready to face “the Challenger”?

Lucas "ThirdKoopa" Guimaraes: Sure! Let’s go for it!

Without further adieu: A Challenger Approaches Epi 3: The Challenger v. ThirdKoopa!

Game one had the both of us on the edges of our seats. The game came down to the last stock, and it could have ended with a single well-placed attack from either player. In the end, I made a few fatal mistakes, like air dodging into a charged f-smash (that was painful to rewatch) and threw out a few too many f-tilts, which lead to Lucas winning the game.

In game two, I learned from my mistakes and stayed cool.I closed out the game with a satisfying KO off the top of the stage.

Game three was also painful for me to watch. You could see that I was tilted, and I couldn’t get out of my own head. I continuously let Lucas space me as he whittled me down with Wolf’s Neutral B attack. In the end, he took the “W” and I had to accept defeat.

The match between Lucas and I was the closest one that I've played yet. Lucas showed his expertise with Wolf, and I did the same with Ganondorf. He has a plethora of Smash knowledge and experience, which was apparent during our games. In the end, I was really grateful that he reached out and offered the challenge. The back country of Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico are incredibly beautiful, but it’s not the best place to go to challenge people to Super Smash Bros. Maybe I need to change my strategy for finding opponents in the future.

If you think what I’m doing is neat and want to see more pictures, check out my instagram. Don’t hesitate to send me a message there or here on Smashboards either! I am always open to new challenges and I am more than happy to share my images!
 
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Luke Hayduk

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